Momentum Skills Joins ‘Missing Million’ Campaign
Momentum Skills in Aberdeen recently joined the “We are the Missing Million” campaign at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the support and care needed by people with brain injuries in Scotland.
The Neurological Alliance of Scotland event called for MSPs to sign a pledge to recognise the one million people with a neurological condition in Scotland – and the ways in which it affects their daily lives.
One of the big issues highlighted was the problems that arise from the relative invisibility of neurological conditions.
Momentum Skills in Aberdeen was invited to participate in the parliamentary event as it provides vocational support to individuals who have sustained an acquired brain injury (ABI) – which can be the result of a stroke, infection, road traffic accident, haemorrhage or assault.
Wayne Forbes, who has attended the Momentum Skills service in Aberdeen, acquired not one, but two brain injuries.
Wayne joined the army at just 16 years, and was first deployed to Northern Ireland, before being transferred to Iraq in 1991 where he fought in the first Gulf War.
Wayne also saw action in Bosnia and Kosovo before returning to Iraq for a second time in 2001 – to take part in further military action.
After completing his time in Iraq, Wayne went on to be a sky-diving specialist in the army often demonstrating his skills used at public events across Scotland.
In 2007 Wayne was drafted back into action in Afghanistan, spending six months in the desert with his platoon fighting the Taliban.
It was during one of these battles that Wayne received his first brain injury after being blown up by an improvised explosive device. Six weeks later, Wayne was back in action as Platoon Sergeant.
Wayne remained in Afghanistan for the full six-month tour before leaving for Germany. It was whilst in Germany that Wayne received his second head injury in April 2010, following an assault which left him in an induced coma for about five months.
When Wayne regained consciousness, he was transferred to Birmingham for rehabilitation – but at this point he couldn’t even remember his name and was still unaware of what had happened to him.
After being medically discharged from the army, Wayne was referred to Momentum Skills in Aberdeen in July 2012 for vocational rehabilitation.
As a consequence of his injuries, Wayne experiences cognitive difficulties, particularly with memory and attention. However, in addition to his acquired brain injury and difficulties with post-traumatic stress disorder, Wayne also had problems with the concept of being a ‘civvy’. Having spent all of his adult life in the army, he had no experience of living as a civilian and was having difficulty adjusting to his new life.
During his time at Momentum Skills, Wayne has worked hard to develop a whole new set of coping strategies and has made a lot of changes to his way of thinking in order to adapt to his new set of circumstances. This journey of self-discovery - with highs and lows along the way – is now at a stage where Wayne is living independently and undertaking a work placement with the support of Momentum.
Liz Howarth, vocational tutor with Momentum Skills in Aberdeen, believes Wayne is a wonderful success story. “Wayne has lived an extraordinary life and that is why we wanted to share his story and his difficulties with MSPs at the Neurological Alliance event at the Scottish Parliament.
“At the age of 42, Wayne is still a young man with his life ahead of him. We believe that Wayne deserves recognition for the years he spent fighting on the front line – and for his strength and determination to overcome all the obstacles he faced to finally feel able to call himself a civilian.”
Wayne is very optimistic for the future. “Momentum in Aberdeen has been an excellent support in terms of information and assistance with vocational rehabilitation.
“My hope for the future is that people like me who have a brain injury are given the information they need and are able to access the support of services like Momentum when it’s needed.”